November 04, 2015

Our Dream Californian Road Trip: San Francisco to Yosemite

Husband and wffe. Photo by Diana Rothery

You may have seen on my instagram that I got married in San Francisco at City Hall in September and honeymooned around California. My husband (eek!) and I only had 2 weeks to fit everything in due to work commitments, but we did a pretty good job. We covered around 1,200 miles before arriving in LA for the final leg of the trip.

I've been threatening to post about the trip for a while now - then I look at the thousands of photos in my camera roll, feel too overwhelmed and go back to procrastinating. Anyway here we are, I made it. This first instalment will cover the first leg of our trip - San Francisco to Yosemite National Park.

I feel like I need to mention the photo layout within - Blogger HATES photos apparently, so I've done the best I can. All photos were taken on my iPhone 6 and edited with VSCO.  There are several photos of cactuses (yes, 'cactuses' is also a suitable plural - I hate the word cacti!) because that's my jam. Enjoy.

Starting in San Francisco, we stayed in Bernal Heights which is a lovely district 10 minutes by bus from the Mission and our favourite street, Valencia. On our previous stay in SF, we stayed right behind Valencia Street (Hill & Guerrero) and found the location perfect, but didn't mind an extra 10 minutes to get there this time around. Bernal Heights felt like a really safe, family-orientated neighbourhood and has all sorts of local amenities, especially on Cortland Ave, which was at the bottom of the street we stayed on. We had brunch one morning at The Bernal Star and couldn't recommend it enough. There's also some great dive bars if that's your scene - it's totally our scene. The view from our private balcony was incredible. We always use Airbnb when we travel and it hasn't let us down yet. Airbnb accommodation in San Francisco is pricier than some cities because a tax is added on. If you plan to visit, it may be worth booking your accommodation earlier than you usually would just so you have more places to choose from.

A picture of flowers surrounding a San Francisco houseA picture of Chinatown in San FranciscoA picture of a tram near Union Square in San FrancsicoA picture of cacti and plants in the outdoor garden area of Paxton Gate in San FranciscoA picture of a tattooed woman in front of a prickly pear cactus plant in Golden Gate Park, San FranciscoA picture of a prickly pear cactus plant bush in Golden Gate Park, San FranciscoA picture taken inside Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, overlooking the harbour through the windowA picture of a tattooed woman holding a photobooth strip of herself in Musee Mechanique, San Francisco

We took it easy in San Francsico. As great as it is to travel to new places, I really enjoyed the familiar feel of the city and knowing how to get around. It makes travelling much less stressful for somebody as anxious as I am. We got married on our fourth day there on the 11th (we will be featured on Rock N Roll bride in the next month or so - I'll be sure to post when it's live!). The temperature was fair for most of the trip and I mainly wore my trusty Saltwater sandals. They're so versatile and go with jeans, dresses, shorts... They made packing for two weeks away a lot easier and I know they'll be a firm fixture in my suitcase from now on.

Tip: If you're visiting SF for the first time - take layers. The temperature changes so suddenly and can be one extreme to the other depending on your location in the city. On our first day there it was about 30c (hot for SF!) and we were melting like the British stereotypes we are. The next day we went to Golden Gate Park and it was mild and warm when we had got on the bus to Haight Street. By the time we walked the length of Haight Street to reach the entrance to the park, I was shivering and complaining (frequently, sorry J) about how cold I was. Boring bit of information, but it does get chilly, especially into the evening.

Golden Gate Park itself is incredible - it's actually bigger than Central Park in New York. It's split up into sections/gardens and our first stop was The Botanical Gardens. There's plant and tree species from all around the world. Highlights of the Botanical Garden for me included; Succulent Garden, Redwood Grove, Australia and California Natives. I took so many photos and found it so hard to narrow down. There is nothing that pleases me more than a good cactus.

A picture of a woman standing in front of a US submarine and US flag in San FranciscoA picture of plants, succulents and cactuses / cacti in the entrance to a house in Bernal Heights, San FranciscoA picture of a man eating an In N Out burger at Fishermans Wharf, San FranciscoView from balcony in Bernal Heights, San FranciscoA picture of a woman wearing Saltwater Sandals stood near a succulent plant in San Francisco

We also spent some time at Fisherman's Wharf, mainly so Josh could eat at his beloved In N Out and mainly so I could play with the photobooth at Musee Mechanique - a privately owned museum consisting of 20th century arcade games, artefacts and photobooths, all useable! We also saw the seals at Pier 39 this time and I was besotted. We actually ended up going to Fisherman's Wharf twice on the trip. We didn't go to Alcatraz because we visited it the first time we came to San Francisco. I definitely recommend going, just make sure you pre-book online. Although it's a huge tourist attraction, it's a must-do.

Our favourite meal in America will always be breakfast/brunch. Home fries, pancakes, french toast, mac & cheese, huevos rancheros... It's just the best food and the portions are so huge that we generally don't stop for lunch. Our favourite brunch spots in San Francisco are St. Francis Fountain and Boogaloo -  both cater very well for vegetarians and vegans. The buildings are full of character, Boogaloos is situated in an old pharmacy and St. Francis Fountain is very typical of an old American diner - it's actually the oldest ice cream parlour in SF. You can also have a mimosa with your pancakes at Boogaloos. I do love a mimosa.

We had a stunning meal on our final night in San Francisco at Greens restaurant, a vegetarian place in Fort Mason which overlooks the marina/harbour. The Golden Gate Bridge is also in the background, but due to the heavy fog (residents call the fog Carl and he has his own instagram account) that evening, we couldn't see it. We mentioned our honeymoon and were given some complimentary champagne which was a nice touch. The restaurant is a big, open space with nice lighting that makes for a great atmosphere. I recommend it if you're looking for a special meal, whether you're vegetarian or not.

A picture of a woman holding a palmistry card from a game at Musee Mechanique, San FranciscoA picture of a friendly squirrel in Golden Gate Park, San FranciscoA picture of a flag at Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, San FranciscoA picture of sea lions laying in the sun at Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

The next morning, after 6 days in San Francisco, we bid the city goodbye for now and headed out to Yosemite National Park. We hired a Ford Focus from Avis and sure, it wasn't a Mustang, but it was super cheap to fill up and very reliable. I've been to America a bunch of times, but the drive to Yosemite was my first real experience of driving on the open roads and freeways. I was in awe of everything, it all looked just like the movies and was such a novelty. We stopped off for pancakes at an IHOP in Livermore after about an hour on the road. They have four different kinds of syrups for your pancakes, including blueberry which was so unnaturally purple that I couldn't begin to imagine what was in it. Tasted damn good, though. Our next stop on the drive was Poot's Cactus Nursery. We actually passed it (it's on the left if you're heading towards Yosemite) and Josh turned the car around - a reminder as to why I married him. It's a small nursery, but has some huge cactuses and is well worth stopping for.

A picture of a sign which reads ' save water buy cacti ' at Poot's Cactus Nursery, Ripon, CaliforniaA picture of a giant cowboy cactus at Poot's Cactus Nursery, Ripon, California

As we got closer to Yosemite (I say closer, but we would have still been 2 hours away! We passed through so many small towns so I can't say for certain where we were) it became apparent that the recent wildfires were affecting a large chunk of the landscape - we could see patches of burnt trees and scrubland from the car and the air became foggy with smoke. We saw a sign to turn off your car's AirCon, which must have been to do with the smoke.

We took another pitstop somewhere on the road in Sonora for a roadside pee. This involved climbing (or falling, in Josh's case) down a ditch and praying nobody could see. We were so high up at this point that I was starting to feel dizzy and was holding my breath during all the twisting, winding roads that were, for the most mart, not equipped with barriers. My knuckles were white. It was pretty terrifying and awesome in equal measures. The views were like nothing I've ever seen before. The roads became even more winding and elevated as we drove through Sonora, Moccasin and Groveland, then eventually straightened out and became surrounded by trees as we headed into Yosemite National Park.

The forecast wasn’t good and it was pretty cold in the park, it then started raining heavily that evening and I started having horrendous back pain, which had started when we left San Francisco. I was booked to horse ride the next morning, but after a completely sleepless night, there was no way I could ride. I was so disappointed as Western riding is on my bucket list. It was cold, still raining heavily and everywhere we looked, there was a thick fog hanging low. Neither of us anticipated wet conditions and didn’t take walking gear with us. Sadly, we made the decision to check out a day early. Yosemite was a part of the trip I was looking forward to the most, but the pain I was in, coupled with the weather, literally meant it was a wash-out. Camp Curry was really lovely. We were only there for one night, but spent time on the communal porch in the rocking chairs drinking red wine into the night. It’s something I hope we can revisit and do properly in the future. Once we checked out, we decided to drive down to Santa Cruz and checked in to a motel that afternoon. More on the next leg of the trip soon!

A picture of the Camp Curry sign lit up at night in Yosemite National ParkA picture of a woman holding a bottle of Rogue x Pendleton beer A picture of the little chapel at Yosemite National Park

Follow me on


  1. Wow, your trip seems just fabulous. Thanks for these photos. I heard about this before, but I didn't think it would be such nice place to visit. I am looking forward to my future trip here! But currently I am looking for some good party venue New York for my destination engagement. Could you please share venue recommendations for my engagement?

  2. How have I just found your blog?! I love this post. I did a a two wek road trip in March/April and saw some of the same spots in San Fran.I am yet to write about it though!
    Deimante x


© cold girl fever | All rights reserved.